Care During Chemotherapy and Beyond

Loss Of Libido

What Is Loss of Libido?

Your libido is also called your "sexual drive" or desire for sexual relations. It is also known as a lack of desire, as far as sexuality is concerned. Your sexual health includes:

  • Desire disorders - you do not have a want for intimacy and sexual relations, due to altered body image, or side effects of chemotherapy or cancer treatment
  • Arousal disorders - when you have a difficulty responding to your partner's advances, or cannot keep interested or aroused
  • Orgasm disorder - you are unable to obtain an orgasm, or climax during sexual activity

These terms are all related to sexual dysfunction. It is important to focus on what area in your relationship is causing you to have a loss of libido, and try to correct that area.

What Causes Loss of Libido?

There are many things that can lead to a loss of libido, and lack of desire for sexual intimacy. These are usually related to the physical and emotional effects of cancer and chemotherapy. Certain causes may include:

  • Body image changes - from hair loss, increased or decreased weight
  • Side effects of treatment- such as nausea, pain, fatigue.
  • Fear, guilt, and anxiety, for multiple reasons, will also play a role in your sexual health.
  • Painful sexual relations (during or after intercourse) may cause problems with libido.

Things You Can Do For Loss of Libido:

  • Communicate your feelings with your significant other. Make sure that you talk about your feelings, instead of thinking "it will all get better with time." Communication is of high importance
  • If nausea is an issue, take anti-nausea medication 30 minutes -1 hour before sexual activity. Try to eat crackers or a light meal to help curb nausea, if it is later in the evening.
  • Rest before initiating sexual activity, to minimize fatigue during and afterwards.
  • Avoid a heavy meal or alcohol before you initiate sexual relations.
  • Try a warm bath with candles for relaxation.  Play soft music and use relaxing massages to help make the mood.
  • You do not need to perform the act of intercourse in order to enjoy a filling sexual relationship. Touching exercises and cuddling may be just as effective for you and your partner. Some benefits and suggestions include:
  • Touching in a non-sexual way will show dedication to the relationship, and help your relationship grow stronger. Here, you will be able to explore ways to pleasure each other - that does not have to be sexual in nature, or include the act of intercourse.
  • Use massage oils to rub your partner's hands, back, or feet. In example, you may have bone pain or discomfort that may prevent you from being able to enjoy pleasure. This relaxation technique may help you to be able to relax, be comfortable, and function in an intimate manner.
  • Support groups are valuable ways to meet people who are sharing the same experiences, and may help you to feel less alone. Those who belong to a support group may be newly diagnosed, or in remission for years. You may find that some of your fears are ones that others are experiencing. You may also find some helpful hints for managing your disease.  Ask your doctor or healthcare provider if there is a support group that is right for you.

Common Problems With Sexuality: ImpotenceGynecomastiaLoss of LibidoVaginal DrynessVaginal Infection, and Genital Pain

Note:  We strongly encourage you to talk with your health care professional about your specific medical condition and treatments. The information contained in this website is meant to be helpful and educational, but is not a substitute for medical advice. is designed to provide the latest information about chemotherapy to patients and their families, caregivers and friends. For information about the 4th Angel Mentoring Program visit